Whether it is because of its close proximity to major metropolitan areas, lower cost of doing business or its high quality of life, more and more businesses and people are making Lackawanna County home.
According to United States Census data, the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton Metropolitan Area has seen its workforce increase by 3.2 percent. Lackawanna County especially has seen an influx of residents from the New York Metropolitan Area, with 1.8 percent of newcomers originally hailing from that region.
What makes Lackawanna County a viable location to live and work? The response to that question could be just as varied as the types of businesses choosing to locate here.
This past summer, Socafe purchased the former Grove Textiles building in Dunmore Borough, making it their corporate headquarters and bringing 130 jobs to the region. Founded in 1987 and originally based in Newark, N.J., Socafe provides the coffee roasting industry with quality coffee and machinery, as well as the branding, packaging and distribution of single serve pods to thousands of retail stores across the nation and dozens of online outlets. It also manufactures single serve coffee for its own brands, as well as existing customer brands, while offering private label brands for other roasters and retail chains.
“For our company, the reasons why we relocated to Lackawanna County were multipronged,” said Joseph Fernandes III, vice president of Socafe. “The cost of utilities is much lower and the workforce is hardworking and productive. Together with a lower tax rate and a very pro-business atmosphere, our new location opens us up to raw materials that we didn’t have before. In addition, we found the lower shipping rate to distribute our products is positioning us as more competitive to clients.”
For Flushing, New York-based Crystal Window and Door Systems, its expansion into Benton Township happened because of its location.
“There is nothing in the New York Metro area that matches the scale of our new 226-acre, 336,000 sq. ft. facility in Benton Township,” said Steve Chen, chief operating officer of Crystal Window and Door Systems. “Our plant in Northeast Pennsylvania has great access to highways so we can move products to market easily. Round trip to New York City, Philadelphia, upstate New York, and other major metropolitan areas in one day is very manageable.”
“Operating costs, construction costs, energy costs, and regulatory costs are also significantly less in Northeast Pennsylvania,” he continued. “The supportive business economic development climate focused on manufacturing has made it easy to start up and expand. The outstanding labor pool demonstrates strong work ethics, experience, education, and skills, and we are pleased to have added nearly 100 new local workers in the past two years.”
Simon Roozrokh, chief executive of Select Products Holdings LLC, Long Island invested in Lackawanna County by purchasing a building in Vandling, where they will produce its own line of commercial tissue products, and branded labels for companies such as Redner’s Markets, Big Lots and Cascade.
“Our new location will serve as our manufacturing hub, providing efficient service and distribution of our product lines to our network along the East Coast,” Mr. Roozrokh said. “The business assistance provided by The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce made for a smooth transition into the community and we are excited to call Northeastern Pennsylvania home.”
The Chamber expects this trend to continue due to changes in both New York and New Jersey minimum wage laws and an increasingly favorable business climate in northeast Pennsylvania.
“The proposed increase in minimum wage, property taxes and availability of real estate in New York and New Jersey is a consistent message we are hearing from companies looking at a location in northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Bruce Reddock, an economic development specialist with The Chamber. “The Greater Scranton region’s pro-business climate, complemented by our competitive business costs, quality of life and ample labor supply are the factors putting us at the forefront of the site selection evaluation.”
Mr. Reddock also suggests that our region can continue to attract outside businesses by remaining adaptable and innovative in producing a strong workforce.
The Chamber remains committed to its mission of attracting, sustaining and growing jobs in northeast Pennsylvania, and actively recruits businesses to locate in this region. For more information, visit www.scrantonchamber.com or www.scrantonplan.com.